NEW DELHI, Jan 30 � In a sensational development that could have serious long-term ramifications, a special court in Bangladesh has awarded death penalty to commander-in-chief of ULFA(I) Paresh Baruah for his involvement in the Chittagong arms haul case.
The elusive ULFA(I) commander-in-chief, who is suspected to be holed up somewhere on the China-Myanmar border, is among 14 people, including Jamaat-e-Islami chief and the then industries minister Motiur Rahman Nizami and the then home minister Lutfozzaman Babar, who have been handed down death sentence for smuggling in 10 truckloads of firearms in 2004.
Paresh Baruah, military commander of Indian separatist group United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) which was allegedly going to receive the arms, will also have to die, the court ruled.
�The verdict has been delivered on receiving permission from High Court division,� Judge SM Mojibur Rahman of the Chittagong Metropolitan Special Tribunal-1,� said.
Officials here said that the death sentence would at least ensure that Paresh Baruah would not be able to enter Bangladesh without the court�s intervention. Baruah had directly supervised the huge cache of weapons being smuggled into Bangladesh.
Senior assistant superintendent of Criminal Investigation Department Muniruzzaman Chowdhury had submitted two supplementary chargesheets in June 2011, accusing 11 new suspects including Babar and Nizami. Paresh Baruah, former (NSI) Brig Gen (retd) Abdur Rahim and the then director of (DGFI) Maj Gen (retd) Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury, who was later appointed as DG of NSI, were also charged in both the cases.
All the 11 new suspects, barring Paresh and Nurul Amin are now behind bars. With their inclusion the number of the total accused rose to 50 and 52 in the arms and smuggling cases respectively.
Of them, 12 in the arms case and 13 in the smuggling case were reported absconding.
The detained 11 accused, including former ministers Motiur Rahman Nizami and Lutfozzaman Babar, were produced before the court. Former National Security Intelligence (NSI) director general Brig Gen (retd) Abdur Rahim and former Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) director Maj Gen (retd) Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury are among the other accused produced before the court.